World Responds to Belarus Plane “Hijack” and Journalist Arrest

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World Responds to Belarus Plane “Hijack” and Journalist Arrest


European countries, the United States and the United Nations condemned Belarus after authorities forced a passenger plane carrying a wanted journalist to divert and land in its capital.
In what has been described by some European Union leaders as a ‘hijack’, the passenger plane flying from Greece to Lithuania on Sunday was suddenly hijacked to Minsk and escorted there by a MiG fighter jet. -29 of the Soviet era.

After the disembarkation, the authorities arrested journalist Roman Protasevich.

The incident comes as the EU is set to discuss tightening its existing sanctions against Belarus, imposed following President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on opposition protesters, at a scheduled summit Monday.

Here’s a roundup of the global reaction:

European Union

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, declared that “the scandalous and illegal behavior of the regime in Belarus will have consequences”.

“Those responsible for the hijacking of #Ryanair must be punished.”

Lithuania

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called Belarus’ actions “odious” and called for the immediate release of Protasevich.

Prosecutors also said they have opened a criminal investigation into the hijacking of a plane.

International Civil Aviation Organization

The United Nations civil aviation agency said the forced landing “may violate the Chicago Convention,” a treaty that protects the sovereignty of nations’ airspace.

United States

The United States “strongly condemned” the arrest of Protasevich, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for the journalist’s release.

“This shocking act perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including US citizens,” he said in a statement, using an alternate spelling of the Belarusian leader’s name.

He added on Twitter: “We demand an international investigation and we are coordinating with our partners the next steps.”

Greece

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister, said that the forced landing of a “commercial plane to arrest a journalist is an unprecedented shocking act”.

The EU “must respond to the need to step up pressure on Belarus”, he said, adding: “Enough is enough”.

Ireland

The Irish government, where Ryanair is headquartered, called the incident “absolutely unacceptable”.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin called on the EU to address “these unprecedented actions” at Monday’s meeting.

Poland

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki denounced Belarus’ actions as “an act of state terrorism” and called for sanctions against Lukashenko’s government.

France

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, called for a “firm and united response” from European nations.

L’OTAN

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was also closely monitoring the “forced disembarkation” and detention of “opposition figure Roman Protasevich”.

“This is a serious and dangerous incident that requires an international investigation. Belarus must guarantee the safe return of the crew and all passengers, ”he wrote on Twitter.



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